Do Everything Mother of 3

One Woman Success Story

Owner: Leanne Douglas
Company: Sweet Tees and More
Address: 5147 US Hwy 98N Lakeland FL
Phone: 863-858-5423

Screen Printing, Embroidery, Vinyl and Transfers – Leanne Douglas moved her family, bought a business and hit the ground running. Now she shares what she does, how she did it and drops a little “been there, done that” advice for ColDesi customers.

Tell us a little about who you are and what you do:

I am a Maryland native, moved here with my children 3.5 years ago to purchase my business.

Until then, I had been running my small (but impressive) embroidery business at home.

Lake Gibson Sports World was the name of this business when I bought it.  They had been in business in north Lakeland for over 30 years.  I took over in July of  2015.

It was so much more than I was used to – in addition to embroidery we screen print, cut vinyl and specialize in letterman jackets. That means lots of custom patches.

In fact, that’s how I first heard of Colman and Company. I bought their Patch Kit when I had that home-based embroidery business.

What was your biggest hurdle in getting started? 

I didn’t start from scratch like most people…. everything was here when I arrived.  My hurdle was learning how to use it, evaluate my staff, and keep everything running seamlessly all while settling into life 900 miles away from home. I also had to begin the tedious process of updating software and equipment.

What technologies do you use?

We screen print on a manual 4 color press.

We have a 4-head embroidery machine, a single-head 15-needle commercial embroidery machine  I purchased 3 years ago and my old Brother embroidery machine  – my first multi-needle. It is still running production after 15 years!

We have the Okidata 8432 white toner printer – our newest addition which changed the way we handle print jobs. It reduced our screen print work so much that I sold our 6 colors automatic press.  We just didn’t use it so much and it took up soooo much floor space.

Last year we also replaced our flatbed Ioline 300 with a new 24” cutter. This was a great move for time and space savings! We use that cutter to make some bling, but since a lot of our business is in letterman’s jackets cutting for appliqué is a big part too.

We use the Digital Art Solutions package with CorelDraw and Drawings X for our artwork and embroidery file creation.

The combination provides a very powerful software platform that has transformed the way we look at art and embroidery.

What did you get from ColDesi and why?

We got our DigitalHeat FX System, which is the OKI pro8432WT color transfer printer and Hotronix heat press from ColDesi because of the local support.

I had done a lot of research before choosing the white toner.  I looked at DTG and many other ways to add to our print capabilities and this was the one.

It is nice to know that I have a level of tech support and people capable of answering my many questions close by. I had been working with Holly Wood from ColDesi for a year!

I also just ordered the EXOstencil screen print paper and hope to simplify time and needed equipment to create screens for screen printing.  Not to mention reducing the expense of emulsion, special black ink, and paper for making print positives.

Since I got the DigitalHeat FX system I’ve been able to sell off my automatic silk screening press. It saves me a LOT of space in the shop and now I accept smaller and more profitable orders.

The EXOstencil paper is supposed to work just like the regular transfer paper, but it will make a SCREEN instead of a transfer. No darkroom or emulsions! I can’t wait!

How do you set your pricing?

Most of that was done when I arrived here. I constantly check the pricing against the cost of apparel and supplies.  I will also occasionally check the pricing of competitors.

What products do you sell that other businesses might need?

Full-color custom transfers! I’ve supplied the DigitalHeat FX transfers to a few customers and they turned out amazing. The customers are thrilled because they can put them on just about anything.

I’ve even got a customer who buys them from Hawaii. They sent pictures of the shirts and they were gorgeous.

The other thing that ColDesi customers might want to get from me is Patches. I’ve been doing them for years now and plan on putting some custom designs online.

Definitely contact me for either one!

What’s next for your company?

This may surprise many people, but I am not in love with being chained to retail space.

It’s difficult to take time off and get away.  I am searching for the right location to combine my work and home space.

This will leave me more productive work time, reduce travel time, and be able to spend more time with my family.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Keep it simple and start slow… make sure you know who your customers are before you choose your equipment.

Leanne Douglas
Sweet Tees shop
Sweet Tees jacket
Sweet Tees shirts

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